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OC Register: Julio Teheran arrives at Angels camp, return to field still uncertain


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ANAHEIM — Julio Teheran has taken a big step toward taking his place in the Angels rotation.

Teheran, who had been unavailable throughout the first two weeks of camp, has arrived in Anaheim and chatted with Manager Joe Maddon on Friday afternoon.

Maddon said he’s still not sure how far into the intake process Teheran is, which would determine how quickly he’d be able to get on the field.

“He’s here and I think that’s the big thing, as opposed to being out of town,” Maddon said. “Everything’s pointing in the right direction.”

Teheran is on the injured list, although the Angels have been unable to provide any detail on his condition. Teheran told ESPN Deportes last week that he was awaiting results of a coronavirus test.

Teheran, who signed a one-year, $9 million contract with the Angels over the winter, was projected to be in the rotation.

Until Teheran is ready, the Angels have a rotation of Andrew Heaney, Shohei Ohtani, Dylan Bundy, Griffin Canning and Matt Andriese, with Jaime Barria or Felix Peña as the most likely candidates for spot starts.

Heaney is penciled in to start Opening Day next Friday in Oakland. Dylan Bundy, who will start Monday’s exhibition game in San Diego, appears lined up to start the second game against the A’s next Saturday.

Ohtani, who will pitch once a week, is slated for his final intrasquad outing Sunday, so his first regular-season game would almost certainly be a week from Sunday in Oakland.

Canning is starting Tuesday’s exhibition game against the Dodgers, and Andriese and Patrick Sandoval will work in the final exhibition game Wednesday against the Padres at Angel Stadium.

IMPROVED OHTANI

After seeing Ohtani in two camps in 2020, Jeremy Reed thinks he knows more about what went wrong at the plate in 2019.

“I think the knee was bothering him more than he let on,” the Angels hitting coach said Friday. “I think he’s really healthy (now).”

Ohtani’s 2019 at the plate was, in some ways, a disappointment. His OPS dropped from .925 to .848, which was mostly because his launch angle dropped from 12.4 degrees to 6.7 degrees. Although his exit velocity was almost identical, those hard line drives were going for singles or doubles instead of flying over the fence.

Ohtani hit 22 homers in 367 plate appearances in 2018, and 18 in 425 in 2019.

Reed, who was in his first year as the Angels’ hitting coach last year, now believes that the issue may have been Ohtani’s knee. Ohtani was born with his kneecap split into two pieces, which he insisted had never bothered him until last year. When he had surgery to repair it in September, he said it was not an issue.

After seeing Ohtani this year, Reed isn’t so sure.

“Simply comparing ’19 to now and where I see his body and how it’s reacting, this is the best I’ve ever seen,” Reed said. “So I think the knee is healthy. I think there was some pains that he was going through last year, and (now) I don’t see any sort of grimace at all. The positions he’s getting into lead me to believe that, it’ll be as good as ’18 from a launch standpoint, or better.”

ALSO

Maddon said he is still planning to start Tommy La Stella at second against right-handers, with David Fletcher getting his starts against right-handers at other positions. Fletcher can play second, third, shortstop and the corner outfield spots. His most likely opportunities when he’s not playing second would seem to be in right field. …

Maddon said he’s considering a lineup with Ohtani in the No. 3 hole, between Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. He believes it could get more RBI opportunities for Rendon and also provide protection for Ohtani.

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